Responsibilities, Limitations, Duties Outlined For School Board Members

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How many board members does it take to screw in a light bulb? None.

“The board says let there be light,” Arizona School Board Association Director Leadership Development John Gordon said.

The superintendent decides if the light is incandescent, fluorescent or solar. The board evaluates the quality of the lighting and decides if it’s hindering student achievement.

“Your job,” Gordon told them, “is to respond to the community, not a vocal few.”

Sometimes, citizens can enact more change than board members, he said. “You’re only one of five voices that sit there.”

“You think you’re going to make a lot of changes and you really aren’t,” said board member Rory Huff.

Newly elected board member Richard Meyer disputed that. “Good, common sense prevails,” he said. “If I can’t sell an idea, it’s not a good idea.”

Gordon discussed with board members their responsibilities, limitations, duties and the legal ramifications of requirements like open meeting laws. The rules prohibit board members from discussing information that could affect a vote out of public view.

“It’s so informative,” said Huff, who said he didn’t receive the briefing his first year in office.

Board responsibilities include supervising the superintendent, setting academic and financial goals, monitoring progress and briefing community members.

If a community member sees a board member in the supermarket, say, and shoots off a remark about a problem, a board member should say “I understand,” and specify that she might not agree because sometimes silence is interpreted as agreement, Gordon said.

If necessary, Gordon said the board member can alert the superintendent who can call the individual and assuage them that staff recognizes the concern.

However, board members should also tell that community member about positive district events, Gordon said.

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